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Words That Heal!
Christian Devotional by Pastor Cecil Thompson

Cecil Thompson

Psalm 141:3-4

"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evil doers; let me not eat of their delicacies."

I recall hearing the story of a traveling evangelist who was holding a meeting in a church he had never visited before. He had never met the pastor of the church until just before the opening service. As they sat together singing one of the hymns of the church, the evangelist saw a very ugly woman in the third row. He leaned over to the pastor and asked; “Who is that ugly woman in the third row?” The pastor replied, “That, sir is my wife.” Trying to recover from this sticky situation, the evangelist said, "No, pastor, not her, the one sitting next to her." The pastor looked back with a scowl and said, "That, sir is my daughter!" Have you ever had days like that? What can you say after the words have done their damage?

I am sure that I have shared with you about the Judge I worked for as a county Probation Officer, back in the 1950's, when I was working on my college degree. He was a page out of history---a bow tie, white hair and a wit that kept attorneys always on their toes. His name was Ben Riordan, and he taught me so many practical things about life that I recall them even to this day.

He was very much aware of the dangers and evils of the tongue. I am sure he didn't invent the phrase (well, perhaps he did invent it): "You can remain silent and look stupid, or you can open your mouth and remove all doubt." He did come up with this phrase: "That fellow is so foolish, that when he speaks, he subtracts from the sum total of human intelligence." I counted it one of my greatest honors to be able to go into his chambers during the recess of court cases and hear his wisdom and understanding of the law and of human nature. His memory lives in my heart!

One of the classes I took in college was debate. We learned how to make cases, establish proofs and to refute the opposition in their arguments. Our College Debate Squad was made up of four, two person teams. There were two of us, myself and Orville Hailey, who were married and working full-time, while also attending college classes. We had a big match with a neighboring college. The teams were ranked by their coaches from 1-4 with the best being number one and Orville and I being number four. Get the picture? Each team had to argue one debate on the negative side and one on the positive side.

Our first debate pitted Orville and I against the number four team from the other school, in which we argued on the positive side. To our surprise we won! But then our second match was against their number one team and we knew we were in for trouble. We scoffed at their arguments and drew them into arguments that caused them to defeat themselves. We used very few of our own arguments, but turned their words back on them. We won again!!

It was eight or nine years after the debate and I was employed by the Idaho Law Enforcement Planning Commission. I was interviewing an attorney to possibly work for us. As I looked at his credentials, I saw that he had graduated from the school we had debated. I asked if he had been on the debate team. He suddenly recognized the rascal who had won the debate! We laughed, and became dear friends after he came to work for us.

During a terrible, depressing time in his life when he shut out everyone for quite awhile, I was the only one he would talk with. I can still recall driving him around for several hours. We were both very silent. It was more of a time for presence than for words. He slouched down in an attitude of despair. The few words that I spoke were words the Lord had sifted, and they were not my words but His. They were words of healing.

I am happy to report that he made it through that dark period of his life. That was over thirty years ago. Not long ago we spoke on the phone and I found that, with the Lord's help, his life has been restored. The tongue is a terrible weapon. It is the revealer of the heart and those hidden motives that lurk out of the sight of others. In a previous chapter, Psalm 139:4, we read: "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." It is understood then why the Psalmist is here asking the Lord to set a watch over his tongue. We say things so quickly and after we try to take the words back, the damage has already been done.

There is a point I want to make in all of this relating of personal experiences. It relates to our Scripture for today. I feel that the Psalmist uttered his prayer for the Lord to set a guard on his mouth early in the morning to guide him through the day. It was a commitment on his part and it needs to be a commitment on our part to allow the Lord to sift those thought process that lead to speech and allow us to speak words that will build up and encourage, rather than tear down.

We all need to discover that we can be God's instruments by learning to speak words of peace, joy, love and encouragement.

Blessings dear hearts. Walk with God today. Trust Him completely and be a blessing.

--- Pastor Cecil


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